Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts decided to give Kathryn’s (at Book Date) “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” meme a kidlit focus, reviewing books in children’s literature (picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, or anything in the world of kidlit). If you enjoy this type of reading, join us every Monday to share what you’ve been reading!
As of Saturday evening, the exterior painting of our house is done. YAY! Then yesterday we repaired the front porch corners with new cement and tomorrow the carpeting company comes over to put new indoor/outdoor carpet on the porch. We have two other major outdoor jobs to complete before we can fully focus on the interior of our home. I’m covered in sweat, mosquito bites, a mild sunburn, and paint chips! It’s funny, though, how preparing to sell your house makes you stop to remember all the reasons you’ve loved it. We’ve lived here for over 13 years and two of our children were actually born IN this house, so this will be a bittersweet transition. Anyway, please send all your prayers/positive thoughts over the coming two weeks as we continue our countdown to getting “on the market” by mid-July!
On to my reading for this week… Given the insanity of property work we’re currently doing, I’ll make these pretty short. Hopefully you’ll find something to add to your reading list!
We Hunt the Flame
(Sands of Arawiya, #1)
May 14, 2019
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
I’ve wanted to read this one since all the ARC buzz started last summer. I think I’ve avoided many YA fantasy series since they tend to take themselves too seriously, but I was intrigued by the well-respected “Hunter” being a woman who disguised herself as a man. And this was a world that includes a number of fictional cultures with Arabic representation. Briefly: Zafira is brave and gifted. She feeds her people with everything she catches, never missing her target. Nasir, is known as the Prince of Death, forced to assassinate anyone his father, the king, asks him to. They cross paths when they are both sent on missions to the same destination, interacting with a tight-knit group of side characters on their long journey. As shocking discoveries are made, both Zafira and Nasir begin questioning their identities, beliefs, and purpose. There’s some cruelty, humor, some blood/guts, a little romance, and of course many fantastical elements. I am interested in seeing what happens next, so I do plan to read book #2 when it’s released (but for goodness sakes, will someone PLEASE tell Zafira that licking her lips only makes them chapped!). 🙂
All the Greys on Greene Street
Kelly Murphy, illustrator
June 4, 2019
Viking Books for Young Readers
12-year-old Olympia is a young girl struggling to figure out who she wants to be in this world. But she’s also keeping a secret in hopes of holding her home together. Her dad left for a very important (and possibly illegal) task and asked her to keep his letter a secret. Meanwhile, her mom can’t seem to get out of bed to do her job or to take care of Olympia. There was more grit to this story than what I’ve normally read in middle grade literature. Tucker beautifully addressed difficult topics (such as depression, separating parents, etc.) and provided very realistic and meaningful friendships between the three main children. There was very little glossing over — truly authentic and brave. I think this book will especially appeal to older middle grade readers in 7th and 8th grades. There’s also an Afterword about depression, mentioning to the reader: “If you recognized part of your own story in Olympia’s, you’re not alone.” Keep your eye out for this one!
The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James
Ashley Herring Blake
March 26, 2019
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I just finished reading Ivy Aberdeen in May and decided to grab this one last week when I saw it available through my Overdrive e-library. I liked Ivy’s story well enough, but Sunny St. James’ story absolutely captured my heart! No pun intended.
Sunny literally almost died, but she received a donated heart when she needed it most. Since she survived the healing period, she makes a “New Life Plan” of the things she wants to do now that she gets to live. But things are complicated in Sunny’s life. Her biological mom, Lena, gave her up (when she was only four years old) to her best friend, Kate. And suddenly Lena is back in the picture, attempting to create a relationship with Sunny. Meanwhile, Sunny makes a new best friend named Quinn after her old best friend stabbed her in the back at a slumber party just a year ago. Quinn is going to help Sunny cross off one major thing on her New Life Plan list: to kiss a boy. This is such an adorable best-friendship and all the surrounding relationships are so well crafted. I expect this one to fly off the shelves with middle school readers. This book has pain, laugh-out-loud moments (I seriously CRIED I laughed so hard at one point), beautiful poetry, f/f middle grade romance, Mexican representation, and soooooo much heart!
There Are No Bears in This Bakery
January 8, 2019
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
This one is a cute little picture book story that will have little ones giggling and talking about what’s happening. I guarantee that no one is going to get by Muffin the cat while he’s on watch! You’ll find great use of onomatopoeia and descriptive similes throughout: “The bakery’s back window was open like a crooked smile.” The artwork was created using acrylic paint, cut paper, and marker. I’ll share one humorous example, below:
A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet
(Sleeping Bear Alphabets)
Scott Brundage, illustrator
April 15, 2018
Sleeping Bear Press
Written by retired astronaut, Clayton Anderson, we have an illustrated alphabet book that isn’t just for young children — this one will be an insightful read for all ages. The realistic artwork kept me staring at each page, enjoying all the minute details to match the informational text. There’s so much to see and learn that you will want to take the time to read it over a few days with younger children (who might just want to cover a letter per day). I hate that I can only share one page spread because they’re all quite beautiful. This example will also demonstrate the amount of text and white space to expect on each page:
Mom and Me, Me and Mom
March 26, 2019
This book is a compilation of sweet daily moments shared between a mother and her daughter. Initially, I thought each page was the mom saying something to the child. But on second look, I realized I was mistaken. I think it would make a great discussion with a toddler: Who’s saying this line? Look at the picture. Look at the title. Now what do you think? The simple illustrations are drawn primarily in black, brown, white, and a bright peach color. Yet they are still full of life. I’ll provide one example, below:
To Be Read:
This week I’ll be finishing The Oceans Between Stars by Kevin Emerson and Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung. We are right at the halfway point in the year and, while I’ve read over 160 books, I’ve only finished 18 out of the 42 books on my #MustReadin2019 list. It’s easy for me to get excited about all the NEW books coming out each month, so I need to re-focus my reading plans and start slipping more of those older titles and the nonfiction titles into my weekly schedule. Bring on Part 2 of 2019!! 🙂